Greg Copeland on Affordable Housing at Forum

The following is from Questions and Answers from Polina Montes de Oca, the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood Revitalization Program Manager, and answers from the original Vote NO candidate for Ward 6 City Council.  The Forum was to be held on October 5, 2019.


The City needs to re-do-the- tool -box. The regulatory powers of the city are simply not Neighborhood Friendly. The City’s regulatory tools are wedded to  a model that still works for the large property developers that are making millions developing the Green Line Corridor with their army of architects, planners, lawyers, finance experts and union tradespeople.  The City is set up to cater to the needs of the Big Boys; not neighborhoods and individuals or small business people.

We need a new model to plan and permit the rehabilitation of the single family and duplex structures that could help fill the gap in the affordable housing crisis in the short term if the City Council is willing to make the policy changes need to accommodate individual homeowner/investors and small business rehabbers. Given the hundreds of vacant homes in the City the City Council must be willing to operate outside the regulatory model that has helped to create and perpetuate the current problem. Saint Paul is not Detroit and we must stop demolishing homes as part of some final solution that keeps people from living in an affordable home that they can call their own.

The City of Saint Paul in addition to the $2 million Housing Trust Fund, also provides Capital Improvement Budget dollars to about a dozen neighborhood  not for profits to develop housing opportunities with about $3 million in 2019 and $2 million for 2020.

None of this is enough to make a significant difference in the current housing crisis. The City must attract outside dollars to create the affordable housing stock we need and to do it we must get the statutory caps on Housing Tax Credits used by the MN Housing Finance Agency to sell tax free housing bonds to private investors removed during this crisis. How is it in the public interest to limit

private investment in affordable housing? It isn’t!

Poverty has made it’s home on the East Side and their is no Cavalry that is coming rescue us from this man-made disaster. We need to see the 200 vacant buildings on the East Side as resources that can be turned into homes with affordable mortgages for which the City should remove all barriers to rehabilitation, such as eliminating building permit fees and other regulatory costs.  We need a special unit in Planning and Economic Development to manage our way out of this inventory of over 500 vacant buildings city wide and that does not mean relying on bulldozers and clam-shells to continue to tear down this housing stock. I want to see the City be creative and wise with it’s resources to leverage all other available funds such as Livable Community dollars from the Met Council. Without looking outside the status quo box we will be adding more houses that were homes to the vacant property list.

Density is not an issue in the short term.  People who have invested in their neighborhoods deserve the City’s protection of their investment. On the East Side we have always welcomed more dense housing options, as the current number of such properties gives testimony too.  When developers have wanted to build high density buildings we have welcomed them and as a senior single family homeowner I certainly support building more senior friendly buildings, which would also serve a young family that needs a big home and backyard.

Housing quality is always an issue in an area with many 100 year old homes as  well as post World War II homes and a large percentage of people living in poverty. These updating and maintenance issues present for both homeowners and landlords. This is an area where we have looked to neighborhood based organizations to play a role assisting low income homeowners with forgivable loans or other financing to make it possible for people to stay in their homes. We should continue these programs for homeowners, working families and seniors as well as explore new options for assisting landlords finance repairs to keep families in safe homes and apartments.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Black Hawk Down 26 years later at the Polls

Saint Paul Minnesota recently adopted Mogadishu Somalia as a sister city thanks due to Appointed Ward 6 City Councilman Kassim Busuri who lived there.

26 years ago on October 3rd and 4th, a routine mission turned bloody for the soldiers of the 75th Rangers in Mogadishu. Our soldiers were surrounded, shot at, and eventually some of them, their dead bodies were dragged through the streets after their bodies were desecrated by the citizens of Mogadishu.

Here are first hand recollections from an Army Ranger who went back to Mogadishu, Jeff Struecker. His and other Rangers actions on that fateful two days led to a book and later a movie based on the book of the same name called, “Black Hawk Down.”

The movie short shows St Paul and Mogadishu have similar poor roads, violence in the streets, and distressed buildings in it. The big difference is Saint Paul Residents have a choice on who they want to be leaders by voting for them in elections and the Somalis in Mogadishu do not. Why would Saint Paul leaders make this rash decision to embrace a culture a people who have nothing in common with us? Should ask the appointed councilman who disappears from his duty without telling anyone or his constituents and cites a religious holiday so as to be a let down for residents in Ward 6.

The fact that only two of the eleven Sister Cities to St Paul share Judeo-Christian values with the majority of Citizens of St Paul (Modena Italy, and Manzanillo Mexico) shows how out of touch the City Council is with its citizens.

Seriously, why does Appointed Councilman Kassim Busuri want us to embrace a city full of terrorists?  Is St Paul supposed to lower its standards even further to embrace Mogadishu standards?  It’s been 26 years and buildings our soldiers shot up defending themselves are still standing nor repaired.

Embracing a people who dragged our dead soldiers through the streets is morally unthinkable. Remember Busuri’s Mogadishu values on November 5th.

Greg Copeland Supports All St Paul Strong Principles

John Mannillo, the Chair of St Paul Strong asked St Paul Ward 6 City Council Candidate Greg Copeland whether he supports the 6 Principles of St Paul Strong.  Below are the principles of St Paul Strong, and Greg’s answer.


Saint Paul STRONG

The Six Principles of Saint Paul STRONG are:

SAFETY: We pledge to make public safety our top priority, maintaining efficient and effective first responder systems and enhancing citizen/community relationships with police, fire and other city departments.

TRUST: We will work to make sure full and informed citizen participation comes before decisions are made —not after—and put the interests of all the people, including the affected communities and the intended beneficiaries, ahead of personal or partisan interests.

RESPONSIBLE: We believe city officials must be accountable to all citizens—including persons of color, seniors, persons with disabilities, low-income residents, immigrants and refugees—and that they must be fully engaged to the public, not parties, and must respond to citizen concerns in a timely and nonpartisan fashion.

 OPEN: We will break down the barriers that exclude citizen participation and bring decision-making back into the public arena where it belongs; ensuring taxpayers are fully informed and have an opportunity to participate meaningfully in decision making.

NEIGHBORHOODS: We pledge to strengthen community voices and to work—across ward boundaries— to foster stronger neighborhoods with equal right and access to the resources and amenities of our city.

GENERATIONS: Understanding that our city was built by generations of people who loved it as we do, we pledge to build a stronger, safer and more beautiful city for the generations that will come after us.

Greg Copeland’s Answer

I remain in full support of the six Saint Paul Strong Principles outlined.

Obviously the decline in city enforcement of the law, arrest and prosecution  of criminals by the Carter Administration is resulting in the impression that some neighborhoods will be abandoned as they were by long term homeowners and new residents who no longer feel safe in Saint Paul, as was the case in the early 1990’s when drugs, vice, quality of life crimes and more occurred with out satisfactory action by elected City Leadership.

Sheriff Bob Fletcher is taking action to engage and support Saint Paul Neighbors to make the effort to fight criminal behavior. I would suggest and expansion of the language in the Neighborhoods section to reach not only beyond Wards, but to County Commissioners to coordinate their arterial road construction and maintenance program with the City of Saint Paul to Fix Our Damn Roads!  All entities must be willing to re-evaluate how we are using all Tax revenues for  transportation, including a discussion of filling the Gaps in our existing Metro Transit Bus System and more effective ways to complement and coordinate taxing authority and funding with federal, state and metro governments.

Critical to making any progress significant reforms is a strict Open Government Policy that does not view citizens as the enemy, but rather the catalyst for change and citizen satisfaction as a measure of successful and competent governance. The City Council and Port Authority have to start publishing complete agendas for all their meetings and broadcast these meetings live on Government Cable TV.

Thank you and the other leaders of Saint Paul Strong for the non-partisan leadership provided to bring a much needed Watchful Eye to Capitol City Governance.

Greg Copeland

Saint Paul City Council Candidate Ward 6

                                  

 

 

 

Saint Paul STRONG is a nonpartisan community-led organization dedicated to improving open and representative government in Saint Paul.

MinnPost News Q & A with Greg Copeland

It is long past time To Take Out The Trash!  Being a proud original signer of the Citizens 2018 Petition seeking the Referendum on Ordinance 18-39, I will Vote NO!
St. Paul voters are ready to get rid of this Costly, Inefficient and Problem Plagued Mandatory Trash Collection failed experiment. Residents were promised by City Council lower rates, than those offered under the four decades old competitive private hauler system; that promise was broken, costs are $590 for families with the just one large cart.
Seniors, zero-wasters and low income people that had previously shared the cost of trash collection with their neighbors for years, are now prohibited under Ordinance18-39 from sharing a cart with their neighbors to reduce collection cost.
The City mandated everyone had to pay for a Cart, and citizens with the smallest carts soon found themselves being billed at a higher per unit cost than the large 96 gallon carts. The City’s perverse pricing scheme violates Minnesota’s long standing environmental solid waste policy by giving the biggest garbage producers a discounted rate.
Those who create the least trash should be paying less, not more for garbage collection.

What does the debate over trash say about St. Paul politics?

Saint  Paul Citizens never before had to go to the Minnesota Supreme Court to place a referendum on the ballot.
The Mayor and the City Council threw our City Charter in the trash, along with the Citizens Certified Referendum Petition signed by over 6000 voters; in an incredible abuse of executive and legislative  power to block the referendum for being put on the ballot for a vote by the citizens.
Even after the Supreme Court ruling went against the Mayor and City Council in an act of immature political pique, they both conspired to insult and  intimidate Saint Paul Voters in a unique act of democratic process suppression, by voting for a 22% increase in the City Property Tax Levy; declaring there will be a $27 Million penalty in the form of higher property taxes, if voters dare to vote NO and repeal the city trash program.
Four days later the Central Committee of the St. Paul DFL ratified their Mayor and City Council’s usurpation of the Truth In Taxation Statute for political purposes; and put out it’s edict that loyal party members, in what otherwise is supposed to be a non-partisan referendum, which was put on the ballot by 6000 city voters and through an Order of Minnesota’s highest Court of Law, are directed to vote to keep the City’s trash and tax system.

Could the issue, alone, be a driving factor behind some voters’ decisions? Could it get someone new elected to the council?

Absolutely to both questions!  A NO Vote will not only Trash the mandatory collection and tax system, but will Put Saint Paul Back On Track, by restoring our civic tradition of Good Government with a New City Council that has respect for the City Charter and the City’s Citizens!

In Ward 6 I am the one candidate: to sign the 2018 Referendum Petition; I have refused to pay Waste Management’s bills based on the City Charter requirement that ordinances are suspended upon referendum petition certification and the subsequent tax assessments are without legal authority; I have made my opposition, and/or Voting NO a full part of my campaign for City Council in print media, radio and television.


(the other candidates who are voting no are possibly doing so because momentum is leaning in the direction of #VoteNo)

League of Women Voters St Paul Guide Q & A

Morgan Hess, a Macalester College student and the Youth Vote Project Coordinator at the League of Women Voters St. Paul was putting together the LWVSP’s voter guide for the 2019 St. Paul local elections.  Ms Hess wanted to ask Greg Copeland a few questions for information for the voter guide.  The questions are below with Greg Copeland, the Original Ward 6 Vote NO Candidate’s answers.

What are your biggest priorities?

Greg Copeland’s Priorities:
  • Public Safety maintain current staffing level of the St. Paul Police Department.
  • Public Works Capital Budget $36 Million to address Streets Decay Crisis.
  • Protect Saint Paul City Charter and Citizens Rights to Referendum and Initiative.
  • Eliminate Barriers to Housing Construction, Jobs and Business Investment to Reduce Poverty in Saint Paul.

How will you work to address the housing shortage in St. Paul?

Greg Copeland on Housing:
  • Stop demolition of existing housing and create incentives for redevelopment of existing housing stock including apartments.
  • Work to eliminate statutory caps on Housing Tax Credit Investment Programs to attract maximum private investment to public housing bonds issued by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to address the housing supply crisis market demand for new affordable housing.
  • Create incentives for Saint Paul and other public employees to buy homes in  the Capitol City to build and strengthen our community and economy.

How do you plan to work with and engage residents to craft policy?

Greg Copeland’s Public Policy: 
  • Broadcast ALL City Council meetings on the City’s Cable TV station.
  • Add a Public Hearing to the Second Reading on all City Ordinances.
  • Schedule Second Reading Public Hearings on City ordinances to evenings so working people can directly participate.
  • Hold City Council Meetings in neighborhoods on development and other local interest matters.

How will you address the issue of distrust between residents and public safety officers?

Greg Copeland’s Police Community Relations
  • Support funding for increased Safe Summer Nights Events and other community building activities.
  • Broadcast Public Sessions of City Police Over-Sight Hearings and Meetings.
  • Schedule regular community forums in the Wards with the Mayor, City Council and Police Chief as well as local Police Commander.

The questions from Ms Hess were sent on September 27, 2019 for the purposes of putting the answers in the League of Women Voters of Saint Paul MN’s Voter’s guide.